Abstract for: Time to Bite the Hand that Feeds You

The average life expectancy of a company is sadly only 40-50 years. You would think that a company lifetime could easily surpass our lifetimes because many generations can work at a company and pass down it’s products, brands, know-how, competencies, customer base, etc. to successive generations. But ultimately companies die because they fail to adapt and change. One area of adaption that is the most difficult to navigate is when to start de-investing in the traditional markets that initially built the company, and to invest in building new markets. Too many companies get themselves caught in a trap of continual investment in their ‘core’ markets, which are no longer growing and missing out on growth adjacencies that can fuel the company’s next generation of growth. This paper will explore the reinforcing feedback loops and systemic delays that cause most companies to invest too much and too long in their traditional market and recommends a new R&D portfolio management process that breaks this cycle. It’s critical that companies understand what drives long-term success and how to fund innovation and change in a methodical way.